The Hampshire Hoyden
"Oh dear. He's merely a knowing one, then, as so many others."
Kate Glyn is bored, bored, bored by 'the upper ten thousand', their insipid partying and inane conversations. That is until Lord Blake saunters into her orbit. Suddenly life is a whirl of ditzy lovers, plotting villains, gossipy maidens, balls, quotes, laughter, Sweet William's Disease and scarlet see-through nightgowns.
The Hampshire Hoyden is largely a remake of Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing" in a Regency settingand I can even give you the cast!
First published 1993 by Fawcett
The Queen of Hearts
"How dare you sully the gentle propriety of your sex with such a scandalous song?" he seethed.
After many years of foreign travels, Samantha Adamson has come home to England, mostly to give her ward a fitting season but also to take possession of her inheritance, consisting of a London town house and legacy. Little does she know the upset she will cause her neighbor, his affianced wife or the ripples she will cause in his well organized life. Samantha stands squarely on her own two feet but a season in London, two wayward wards and an insufferable older brother may in fact be a little more to cope with on her own than she imagined. Also, being an inveterate matchmaker, Samantha is kept busy rearranging the lives of those around her into a more fitting order, completely forgetting that she, too, has a wayward heart that can cause the most delicious upset!
I liked this story of a strong yet imperfect heroine and a perfect yet human hero. The stuffy Lord Cartwright wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea but he grows on one as we discover the reasons for his stuffiness. Except for the terrible older brother, the supporting cast contains interesting, likable characters, some sketchily drawn while others are more fleshed out. Although set against the backdrop of ton parties, most of this book takes place out of the ballrooms and is the better for it. An amusing tale.
First published 1994 by Fawcett
The Mad Miss Mathley
"Oh, bravo, Sir!" cried Melinda, grasping his hand and shaking it firmly. "That was magnificently done, the splendid way you routed Cousin Basil! You have done me a world of good and I am forever in your debt."
Melinda Mathley has a problem. Blessed with a large dowry and burdened with a good helping of common sense, she has already declined the proposals of seven fortune hunters, when her father puts his foot down and orders her to marry the next man to offer. With three impoverished bachelors waiting in the wings, Melinda is desperate.
I always enjoy Martin's sense of humor and this is by far her funniest book. Many authors claim their heroine is unique, simply to fail in convincing the reader of the fact. Miss Mathley, however, proves on every page that she is truly a different and original character. Charming and capable, Melinda manages wonderfully but, as she says herself, she's not a shocking girl, she just has a shocking mind; one that lands her in one scrape after another. I warmly recommend this story but caution against reading it in bed - at least if you don't have your own bedroom - as it's very hard not to laugh aloud and then some!
First published 1995 by Fawsett
"Ah, yes," said the rider as he patted his gelding's strong neck. "One cannot be too cautious. Highwaymen, footpads. Radicals. You've had some trouble, I see. Perhaps I can help?" He dismounted. "Must you continue to point that gun at my heart?"
Little did the very correct Earl of Northbridge know that the guardianship of his friend's son would toss him, head first, into adventure. The arrival of a second claimant to his goodwill was just the first of many complication as Lord Northbridge set out to meet his ward, his ward's 'protector' and learns that not everything is as it seems, in fact, most things are not. The shock on finding out that the eminently practical Jack was female is only the beginning of the many disillusionments in store for the Earl as he struggles along and somehow begin to enjoy the life of an adventurer.
Not as humorous as Martin's other books but absorbing in its own way. As the title implies, this is more of an adventure than a romance, although romance is by no means lacking. The plot premise is somewhat weak as to the inheritance laws but if you can look past that, and most of us have no problem to, it's an interesting story with many convoluted twists and turns before we arrive at the happy end. Well, sort of.
First published 1996 by Fawsett
The Butler Who Laughed
"May I be of some assistance, Lady Sarah?" a gentle voice inquired
The Duke and Duchess of Somerton consider it high time for their youngest daughter Sarah to wed. Not only that, they have also picked out her bridegroom. The Earl and Countess of Lavesly are also desirous to marry off their son, Fitzwilliam, Viscount Lyleton, and what better bride could be found than the daughter of a duke? Thus, without consulting either Sarah or Fitz, the marriage contract is signed. All that's left is to bully their two recalcitrant offspring into it, a piece of cake for their determined parents. But Fitz has other problems as well. He's being blackmailed and who better to thwart the villain than his good angel, Sir Charles Rawlins, a seasoned campaigner during the Peninsular wars? Charles agrees against his better judgment to pose as Lyleton's butler to flush out the villain, a decision that yields the most unexpected results.
The most serious of Martin's Regencies, this book still has a lot of amusing and unexpected moments. It's not all light entertainment as it deals with more serious issues, such as the helpless situation of dependent children subject to their parents' every whim and the class inequality between the idle rich and those that served them. For me, this added depth to a story that in less skillful hands would, depending on the author's intentions, be just yet another romp or a moralizing tale, rather than this quite memorable story.
First published 1997 by Fawsett
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